Profile: Francis Leon

Brisbane womenswear label Francis Leon has struck its third successful note this season, with the launch of its Spring Summer 2010 collection ‘Threee’. The stunning range is the pinnacle of 12 months of successes for Francis Leon, with two adored collections under their belts and the opening of a unique designer store-come studio in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. We chatted with Katy Lysaught, one half of the Francis Leon design duo:

Tell us a little bit about your brand, Francis Leon…

Essentially Francis Leon is about creative spaces and development. Our main aim is to create sophisticated, thoughtful designs for a modern woman; classic, timeless garments with a contemporary edge. But it’s not just about the designs. We want to create a new level of customer service and interaction.

It’s about the whole creative process, from the first concept for a collection to the look and feel of the store. We want people to see and be part of the whole process. Which is the reason our design studio is right in the middle of our store.

francis leon

Where did the name come from?

We just made it up. We wanted something that fit the aesthetic we were trying to achieve. It has that element of a classic or old school name combined with something more modern.

How did you get started?

We got a few styles from Jo’s final year collection, made up and sold them on consignment to a couple of stores in Brisbane and Melbourne. Everything seems to have just snow balled since then, but we realised pretty quickly that having our own store would really help us out in many ways.

It has given us the ability to control the whole atmosphere and feeling of our brand, and we are now able to reach our customers in person so much quicker. I think, in the long run this will be invaluable to the development of our brand.

What is it like working so closely with a friend?

Similar to most working relationships I imagine, except we share a few more wines at the end of the day.

francis leon

What will we be seeing in your latest collection “Threee”?

‘Threee’ is a gorgeous collection of summer dresses for all occasions, featuring sharp and sleek corporate wear, casual-wear with a touch of chic, and divine jackets to complete any ensemble. The range gives a nod to the label’s signature touches – unexpected fabrications, a touch of sportswear worked into feminine pieces, references to tailoring and highly structured garments contrasted by soft drapery, while injecting new touches for the season such as soft gathered mesh, elegant tea dresses, and pussy bow blouses.

What has it been like opening your store?

It’s a steep learning curve but it’s been fantastic. Having our design studio in the store means we get first hand feedback from every customer that walks in the door. This really is what the whole concept is centered around. It gives us the chance to react and adapt to our customer and market much quicker, and provide a personal service and experience that really is unique to retail and fashion labels.

Has it been difficult getting your name out there?

Not so much in Brisbane. Everyone has been so supportive here. From local media to QUT and QLD Government initiatives, local businesses, friends and family, friends of friends of friends, even other retailers and designers, everyone is excited about something new and they just really want to help.

The rest of Australia, particularly Sydney, has been harder, for obvious reasons but we’ve got a strong base now. It’s only a matter of time.

What is one fashion item every woman should have in her wardrobe this season?

A great jacket you can wear anywhere.

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